The tenderness and variety of cuts of lamb opens up the opportunity to serve lamb all year long, not just in the spring. I love slowly braising lamb shanks, marinating and flash-frying lamb chops and using ground lamb in stews, sauces and forming them into patties.
Lamb is the meat from young sheep that are less than a year old. Americans eat far less of this delicious meat than people in other countries. It’s often a case of not knowing how to select the best cuts of lamb or misinformation about the meat having a strong “gamey” flavor.
Lamb can be found in most American markets and is generally available in five different cuts: the shoulder, rack, shank/breast, loin and leg. “Rack of lamb” usually refers to a rib cut that includes nine ribs and can be split into rib roasts. Lamb “chops” can come from several different cuts.
For example, “rib chops” come from the rib, and “loin chops” come from the loin. You might also see “blade” and “arm” chops in the meat section of the grocery; these chops come from the shoulder.
Sirloin chops come from the leg. Additionally, many stores sell lamb that has already been ground and can be used to make burgers, meat loaf or sauces.
This recipe for Lamb Sauce With Pasta provides a twist on a traditional Italian Bolognese-style sauce.
Lamb Sauce With Pasta
Servings: 4 to 6
2 pounds ground lamb
10 ounces dried macaroni
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon crushed red peppers or cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
1 cup chicken broth
1 (16-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
2 cups crumbled feta cheese or Parmesan cheese
Cook the pasta according to packet directions. Add salt to the boiling water, cook until al dente and then drain.
Heat olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and red pepper or cayenne pepper. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, without browning the garlic. Add the ground lamb, crushing any lumps with the back of a spoon. Cook until lamb is browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the bay leaves and chicken broth. Reduce heat to a simmer, add tomatoes and stir to combine. Cook 25 minutes; stirring occasionally and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and pepper.
Remove and discard the bay leaves. Add the pasta to the pan and combine with the meat sauce. Sprinkle with the cheese, and serve immediately.